As with most transportation in Egypt, the train from Cairo to Aswan arrived well after the scheduled time. We were the lucky ones, suffering only a five hour delay. Other trains were delayed up to ten hours. The late arrival gave us an excuse to skip sightseeing all-together and instead try to stay out of the scorching Upper Egypt sun. We’d have a full day of temple fatigue and burning to a crisp tomorrow.
Our mandatory convoy to Abu Simbel left at 4 am. Our wake up call seemed a bit premature at 2:37. We dragged ourselves out of bed in the middle of the night muttering to ourselves that this better be worth it. A few hours later, exhausted and frying on the banks of Lake Nasser, we had to admit that it most definitely was. The colossal statues and cavernous temple were designed by the meglomanical pharaoh, Ramses II. Thanks to his uncontainable ego, Pharaonic Egypt’s massive wealth and the engineering prowess of UNESCO (who moved the entire complex piece-by-piece in the 1950’s to save them from the rising shores of Lake Nasser), I was now closer to Sudan than I had ever anticipated being.
Back in the convoy, our tour continued to the Aswan High Dam, which we skipped, upon rumor that it was lame. Then we were on to Philae, an island temple dedicated to Isis, and also rescued from rising waters caused by the dam. Somehow both gigantic and graceful, this temple is a lesser known highlight of the area. With less people to contend with, it becomes easier to focus on the age and the artistry of the ruins. The last stop on our tour was the unfinished obelisk which, no rumor necessary, was clearly lame and had to be skipped.